When somebody explained to me how publishing in science works, this is what it felt like
not saying it's all bad
but it should be better pic.twitter.com/IzTeWYXzL6
— Simon Hoser (@GenieOfGenes) February 27, 2020
I beg you will watch this at least twice.
The “And if they want to publish they have to pay a shitload of money for it” refers to page charges, the name for scientific vanity publishing.
Beside all that, peer review enforces mediocrity and political correctness. Look at the scandal in certain fields, like global warming, where work which challenges the official Consensus won’t be published, as Climategate showed us.
Peer review is not in the least necessary, either. If there still should be journals, then an intelligent editor can dictatorially decide which papers go in and which not. Like it used to be. And like it still is in other magazines. Then rival magazines can emerge. If necessary.
And they aren’t especially necessary, except as overviews. A system like Arxiv.org would work fine.
Except given all this SCOPUS and ratings rah rah, and publish or perish, we have a system that is broken and will eventually collapse. This is why I always when reviewing bad science papers emphasize the papers have been peer reviewed.
If you don’t think it’s so bad, take a look-see at this peer-reviewed wonder.
“A feminist coven in the university” in Gender, Place & Culture by a bunch of university-employed ladies.
Inspired by Sara Ahmed’s call to study what is near to you, we write about our sometimes-joyful, sometimes-furious, always passionate struggles as graduate students in the academy. As a site of imperialism, racism, and patriarchy, the university grinds especially hard on women, people of color, black, indigenous, queer, disabled, and otherwise oppressed scholars. Out of a desire not just to get by or get ahead in this hostile space of competition and scarcity, we write about a feminist praxis that subverts the academy. Using collaborative auto-ethnography, asynchronous online interviews, and co-theorization, we conjure a network of rebels – what we call the feminist coven. We solicited contributions from feminist graduate students in response to three prompts about forms of communication, emotional labor, and imaginaries. Our findings show a vibrant landscape of creativity, love, rage, and longing for academia to be a more hospitable place. We and our contributors, whose voices pepper this article, offer ideas for how to summon new worlds and ways of being through small actions and everyday practices, subverting the violence of the academy by being the storm that blows through it.
Ladies talking about their feelings, and deciding that their problems are all caused by men, is now top science.
It is! Like popular voting in democracies decides what is good, moral, and true, then peer review decides what is worthy, interesting, and scientific.
It’s now ancient history (by ‘science’ standards) but a decade ago I was sacked from the *very last* not-peer-reviewed/ editor-selected mainstream journal; which was pretty successful by the usual indices – but that was not enough…
“…Nor did I not expect that I would be sacked, the journal destroyed and plans made to replace it with an impostor of the same name. I did not expect this because I had been doing a good job and Medical Hypotheses was a successful journal.
“Elsevier managers in the UK had frequently commended my work, I got a good salary for my work as editor [note; 30K pounds p/a], and I was twice awarded substantial performance-related pay rises. The journal was expanded in size by 50 per cent under my editorship, and a spin-off journal, Bioscience Hypotheses (edited by William Bains), was launched in 2008 on the same principles of editorial review and a radical agenda.
“The success of Medical Hypotheses is evidenced by its impact factor (average citations per paper), which under my editorship rose from about 0.6 to 1.4 – an above-average figure for biomedical journals. Download usage was also exceptionally high with considerably more than 1,000 online readers per day (or about half a million papers downloaded per year). This level of internet usage is equivalent to that of a leading title such as Journal of Theoretical Biology.”
The trigger for the ‘Medical Hypotheses Affair’ was, apparently, a homosexual lobby group/ charity who monitored the research literature to ensure that papers which challenged the prevailing theory that HIV was the sole cause of AIDS (and that so-called AIDS in Africa was due to HIV) would not get published; or if published would be withdrawn. I only discovered this because the group published their rejoicing on their web pages – the journal publisher (Elsevier) never told me as sole editor why two already-published papers had suddenly been (without consultation, as a fait accompli) unilaterally withdrawn by the multinational corporation’s senior management.
This matter, and the near lack of any understading or response, was how I realised that Real science was already actually dead; as of a decade ago.
Peer review makes professors feel important. Like when they get to approve a course or win a coveted parking spot. Not fair to all, I know, but there is some truth.
It is just a formalization if the editor asking his buddies what they think.
Bruce Charlton: Did you write only that one blog entry? The site had an interesting name and article. I had hoped for more, I guess.
Peer-review is just another term for “voting for the prom queen”. Always was, always will be.
Dr. Charlton closed out the MedicalHypothesis Blog
Continues to Blogg here:
I don’t get this. You seem to be suggesting that there is some reason to expect that a single editor will make a better decision than the referees, but you don’t say why and I can’t imagine what the reason would be. Are single editors less likely to be guided by political correctness or more likely to be experts in the subject matter or less politically inclined? I don’t see it, in fact, on the last two points, it seems to be clearly the other way.
Have you ever used it? In my experience, peer review can be useful and help clear up the presentation, and point out connections. It depends on the editor(s) and the reviewers.
It also involves humans and it’s competitive, just like graduate studies are and research is, so there will be politics involved. It can get hijacked as the Charlton example shows. The same thing happens at NIH and the other alphabet funding agencies. If one has the right shape or shade, one gets bonus points.
I never understood an online-only (BMC, PLoS) journal charging upwards of $2000 for a publication that will never be printed. But that’s just me, I guess.
John B(): Thank you for letting me know.
Bill_R: Prom queens choices can be useful, too. Looks good a resume for fashion models.
Sheri, It’s a resume builder for faculty members, too. You don’t do it that intensely for fun. (Most of us anyway…) It helps you make the cut.